Tag Archives: East Side Access

Crews complete LIRR tunnel

| aaltman@queenscourier.com


The burrow between two boroughs is complete.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) workers made contact at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 20, finishing a major tunnel of the East Side Access project and bringing Manhattan and Queens closer than ever. Workers broke through the final barrier, connecting the thoroughfare, just under Northern Boulevard and 41st Avenue in Long Island City.

According to MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan, this 120-foot-long segment of tunnel cost $96.8 million to construct — just a sliver of the overall cost of the East Side Access project to connect the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to Grand Central Terminal, estimated at $8.24 billion. The tunnel connecting the two boroughs, which measures 60 feet wide and 40 feet tall and runs more than 3.5 miles long, will bring trains on the Long Island Railroad from the new station at 37th Street and Park Avenue to the Sunnyside Yard.

According to Donovan, the roughly 219,000 commuters from Queens and Long Island who rely on the LIRR daily to get to their jobs in Manhattan will have their commutes shortened by between 15 and 30 minutes per day.

“[Commuters] will no longer need to take a train to Penn Station, and backtrack to the East Side by walking or taking a subway or bus,” said Donovan. “In the future, from every LIRR station, you’ll have a choice about whether you want to take a train to Penn Station or a train to Grand Central. It’s the largest expansion of the LIRR in 100 years, a virtual ‘moon shot’ that will double the LIRR’s capacity to move people into and out of Manhattan.”

Gina Moffa currently spends an hour in transit to get from her home in Franklin Square, Long Island, to her Midtown Manhattan office. The People StyleWatch reporter, who admits she doesn’t know much about the ongoing expansion, is hopeful the extension will ease her commute. She believes the train’s arrival point of Grand Central instead of Penn Station will alleviate the extreme congestion that the west side terminus experiences.

“I am hopeful that it will ease my commute and reduce the time I spend on the train every morning,” said Moffa. “I’d be extremely happy if this expansion shed just 15 or 20 minutes off of my commute.”

Construction on the overall East Side Access project began in 2007 and the MTA was awarded the contract to build this segment of the tunnel in February 2010. The project is expected to be finished in August of 2019.


MTA completes tunnel under Sunnyside Yard

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

tunnel 2w

The Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) plan to connect the LIRR from Queens to Manhattan is on track to finish ahead of schedule.

Transit workers completed the third of four tunnels underneath Sunnyside Yard for the approximately $8.2 billion East Side Access project, which is planned for August 2019, officials said.

The nearly half-a-mile long tunnel was finished on May 29, and will eventually allow riders to travel eastbound from Grand Central Terminal to the Jamaica and Port Washington stations.

“We are delighted to complete this important milestone,” said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota. He added, “Each piece of the project that we bring in ahead of schedule means we can dedicate resources to those parts of the project that most need attention.”

For the next seven years the MTA has a challenging process to finish the “largest transportation infrastructure project” in the United States.

The agency plans to carve the final tunnel by August of this year, which will serve to transport passengers from Queens to Manhattan.

Then transit workers and contractors will build a station 15 stories below Grand Central Terminal, lay tracks, and install ventilation plants in Manhattan at 44th, 50th and 55th Streets.

The MTA also needs to excavate 100 feet of tunnel underneath heavily-trafficked Northern Boulevard to connect the completed tunnel under the East River to the four tunnels in Sunnyside, while supporting the subway, the streets and an elevated station.

However, the most challenging part of the project will be balancing full service of the LIRR, Amtrak and NJ Transit while workers labor to connect the new track, according to a representative.